In a new scientific statement, AHA recommends limiting screen time for children and teenagers to one to two hours per day, far below what’s common.
One of the country’s most prominent public health organizations is the latest in a long line of groups to speak out on the issue of too much screen time.
The American Heart Association this week released a scientific statement warning of the risks associated with youths spending too much time in front of a screen, saying it encourages unhealthy sedentary behavior.
“Increasing trends of screen time are concerning; the portability of screen-based devices and abundant access to unlimited programming and online content may be leading to new patterns of consumption that are exposing youth to multiple pathways harmful to cardiometabolic health,” AHA said in the statement, published in the journal Circulation. Although more research is needed, it said, the known risks are severe enough that families should encourage daily interactions without devices, along with outdoor play.
AHA recommends that children and teens get no more than one to two hours of daily recreational screen time—far below the 11-hour average among teenagers today.
“Given that most youth already far exceed these limits, it is especially important for parents to be vigilant about their child’s screen time, including phones,” said Tracie A. Barnett, Ph.D., a researcher at INRS-Institut Armand Frappier and Sainte-Justine University Hospital Research Center, and one of the authors of the scientific statement, in a news release.
The statement, which was developed by a panel of experts after a review of scientific literature and other public evidence, comes at a time of rising concern about the harms caused by excessive screen time. The Vision Council, for example, has cautioned that overexposure to screens causes significant eyestrain.
Earlier this year, a new advocacy group called the Center for Humane Technology launched to draw awareness to the addictive nature of digital interfaces. In response to such concerns, Apple and Google have changed their smartphone operating systems to help users limit their screen time.